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Offensive Production - The Running Backs

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Looking at USC's offensive decline since the 2005 season we first looked at the receivers. Now we will look at the running backs.

We have been blessed with the amount of talent that we have at the running back position. After losing Bush and White after the 2005 season the question became who would fill their shoes? That was a lot of production that walked out the door and the question was who would step up and make it happen.

In 2006 Chauncey Washington was the natural response but his academic situation left a lot of us wondering if he would ever see the field. Thankfully he righted the ship and he finally became a part of the rotation. But he also had competition in new arrivals Emmanuel Moody, Allen Bradford, C.J. Gable, Stafon Johnson and fullback Stanley Havili...did I miss anyone??

2006 Att. Yds. Avg. TD
Washington 99 467 4.7 5
Moody 56 335 6.0 2
Gable 81 294 3.6 3
Johnson 3 17 5.7 0
Havili* 0 0 0 0

*injured early in the season

So looking at these numbers everyone got a shot to be THE MAN but no one really dominated. Of course we weren't going to see a replay of th Bush/White tandem but we also hoped for someone to be more dominating than what the numbers showed.

The guy I really wanted to see was Bradford. We heard so many great things about him in camp and in practice but he never seemed to get on the field. Hopefully that will change this year.

Despite his success on the Trojan practice field, Bradford hasn't gotten too many chances to make something happen in USC's games.

But with another year's worth of hard work under his belt, that all could change.

"It's kind of hard to say who's going to be the guy," Bradford said. "My mindset is to do what I can do. I know myself, and I just have to show the coaches what I can do to get some playing time.

"I want to fill the power back-role. I want to bring aggressiveness and attitude to the offense, especially in the running game."

Bradford doesn't mind being known for his strength and not for his speed.

"People know I'm not slow. I don't take offense to the big back-thing," Bradford said. "I'm a big back, but I have a lot of speed. If people don't think I'm that fast, I get outside one time and they'll know."

I really want to see this kid get some quality playing time!

In 2007 Pete Carroll decided you couldn't have too much of a good thing securing the commitments of the top 2 running backs in the nation, Joe McKnight and Marc Tyler while picking up Broderick Green out of Arkansas. That's a lot of talent in the backfield and the addition of McKnight along with all of the other talent made Emmanuel Moody decide that it was time for him to go as he transferred to Florida.

2007 Att. Yds. Avg. TD
Washington 195 969 5.0 10
Johnson 98 673 6.9 5
McKnight 94 540 5.7 3
Gable 13 143 11.0 0
Havili 21 134 6.4 2
Dennis 23 89 3.9 1

Again, not really dominating by just looking at the numbers but there were some great plays made in 2007. We also had a number of injuries in 2007 which could be seen as a blessing in disguise because there are only so many touches these guys can get. It was great to see Dennis back on the field after being out so long due to injury

McKnight was the most anticipated and the player EVERYONE wanted to see. He was billed as the next Reggie Bush and he did not disappoint. After seeing him last season its clear that he is a threat form any number of positions on the field.

McKnight was also responsible for some of the season’s most memorable plays.

Against Arizona, with the Trojans facing a three-point, fourth-quarter deficit, McKnight fielded a Wildcat punt and returned it 45 yards to set up a one-play scoring drive that gave the Trojans the lead for good. Of course, McKnight put the finishing touches on that victory with a 59-yard run late in the game, which helped run the clock and tack on the Trojans’ final three points of the game.

The following week, McKnight scored on a 51-yard run at Notre Dame. The touchdown was the first of McKnight’s career and capped the scoring in a 38-0 blowout of the Irish.

The signature game in McKnight’s freshman campaign came in the 2008 Rose Bowl. Against Illinois, McKnight finished with a team-high 125 yards rushing and one touchdown on ten carries. He added 45 yards on six receptions and 36 yards on three punt returns. It was the first time McKnight had gone over 100 yards on the ground.

You can see them all here!

The fact is you can never have enough talent we saw that last season. The question now becomes who will step up? We are going to have a few issues with the line as they get settled in but some one needs to take the bull by the horns and and make a statement. This is the year that that needs to happen, there is too much talent there not to be more dominant.

I will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.